U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Gabon

Gabon (Tier 2 Watch List)

Gabon is a destination country for children trafficked from Benin, Nigeria, and Togo for the purposes of forced domestic servitude and commercial labor. The majority of the trafficked children are girls used for forced domestic work, market vending, and staffing roadside restaurants. Boys are forcibly employed in small workshops and as street hawkers. The victims are typically trafficked into the country by boat and deposited on one of many deserted beaches where the likelihood of detection by authorities is small. NGOs estimate that the number of trafficking victims is significant, but accurate statistics are unavailable.

The Government of Gabon does not fully comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Gabon is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for failing to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons, including investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases, and adopting measures to prevent trafficking. Gabon should strengthen its anti-trafficking efforts by improving its investigations, prosecuting traffickers, and undertaking regional cooperation to prevent children from being trafficked into the country.


Anti-trafficking legislation was adopted by the National Assembly in late 2003 and was under consideration by the Senate in March 2004. In the absence of an applicable law, the government has not actively investigated or prosecuted any cases of trafficking. In October 2003, UNICEF trained 22 security officials on anti-trafficking measures. Those officials trained an additional 43 security agents, including labor inspectors, in recognizing and preventing child trafficking and protecting its victims. At least one trafficking-related arrest was made following this training.


UNICEF estimates that more than 3,000 trafficked children have received assistance from the government and various NGOs in Gabon since 2002. In April 2003, the Ministry of Labor, with the help of UNICEF, set up a toll-free hotline for child trafficking victims. The call center provided child victims with 24-hour assistance and arranged free transport to a shelter. Of the 3,500 calls received in 2003, 100 calls were deemed actionable, 52 children were rescued, and 14 reunited with their families. No corresponding arrests were made.


The government has made only minimal efforts to prevent trafficking into Gabon. An inter-ministerial committee is tasked with leading the government's anti-trafficking efforts, but it meets infrequently and has no budget or office. The government is involved in the preliminary stages of the development of regional cooperation to prevent trafficking.


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